Concerts Concerts The Walkmen Fill The Phoenix with Carefully Controlled Chaos

The Walkmen Fill The Phoenix with Carefully Controlled Chaos

The Walkmen
The Walkmen
Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, ON
October 9, 2010

Review by: Sean McNamara
Photo Credit: Billy Pavone

One of rock's best kept secrets and most entertaining live shows returns to Toronto looking as polished as ever.

The Walkmen

The Walkmen are one of those bands that are hard to decribe to someone who is unfamiliar with them. Within so many of their songs, there are chaotic drums and percussion, while soft, layered guitars and keys flow in and out beautifully. Well, maybe it's not hard to describe, but it sure paints a confusing picture. Oh, and did I mention that Hamilton Leithauser (vocals, guitar) will sporadically change from singing to screaming?

So, as the boys from New York took the stage in front of a simple blue curtain, I was very excited to see what would transpire. Their last 2 albums, the 2008 gem You & Me and the recently released Lisbon both rank high in my collection. The Walkmen started their set with "Victory", which turns from a quiet, piano-led tune to a loud, crashing chorus. The 5 members of the band play very well together, creating a symphony that at times caused me to just simply stand still and admire. The dynamic new single "Angela Surf City" is one of the band's best offerings to date, and the breezy "Woe Is Me" displays the immense talent of Matt Barrick (drums), whose relentless onslaught so often carries the songs in and out of their different parts perfectly.

Songs from earlier albums were featured too, and fit in seamlessly. "All The Hands And The Cook", "The Blizzard Of '96", and "We've Been Had" were the best examples of this, as the set list was well chosen. The newer material did get the best reaction from the crowd though, as songs like "Canadian Girl, and the storming "In The New Year" stole the show (aside from obvious favourite "The Rat").

My only complaint? No horns! Some really great songs were left off the playlist just because there was no horn section. I am not sure why this has changed, as it was present on previous tours. Regardless, The Walkmen will be in my top 10 shows of the year any time they come to town.